Home > Alcohol putting pressure on GI services.

[irishhealth.com] , Condon, Deborah Alcohol putting pressure on GI services. (05 Nov 2012)

External website: http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?id=21258

The high rate of alcohol consumption in Ireland is putting further strain on an already overstretched gastroenterology service, a consultant has warned.

The field of gastroenterology focuses on the digestive system and related disorders. This can include anything from peptic ulcers to acute hepatitis.

According to Dr Gerard Clarke, a consultant gastroenterologist at Portiuncula Hospital in Galway, alcohol not only causes illnesses in its own right, but it can also 'exacerbate the symptoms of almost any other gastrointestinal (GI) condition, from peptic ulcer disease to inflammatory bowel disease'.

He noted that alcohol is a chemical irritant to the upper GI tract and while this is generally related to the consumtpion of spirits, large amounts of other types of alcohol can also cause problems.

He explained that when patients attend their GP with alcohol-related symptoms, they are often referred to a gastroenterologist for an endoscopy - an investigative procedure in which a tiny camera is passed into the body to give a consultant a clear view of the digestive tract.

"However, this can be burdensome, given the existing non-alcohol-related demands for these services," he noted.

Dr Clarke also pointed out that if a patient develops a life-threatening illness, such as acute hepatitis (liver inflammation), they will require care in a high-dependency or intensive therapy unit (ITU), which necessitates 'specific expertise'.


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